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A Question I've Wondered About (Read 2863 times)

Offline rubleski

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A Question I've Wondered About
« on: June 14, 2004, 10:59:13 PM »
No offense intended to anyone in this topic first of all. When i went to a certian competion i was the only white male there. The rest were all asian, about 25 others. I didn't win this one, some girl that was about half my size played 2 of the exact same songs i played and got third though lol. Later i went to another competion and got 2nd. My question is: what makes asains so good? I'm not mad or trying to be offensive, i'm really jelous! What is their secret that makes them really good at piano? Thanks.

Offline donjuan

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Re: A Question I've Wondered About
«Reply #1 on: June 14, 2004, 11:06:39 PM »
I noticed differences among races and their playing styles as well.  Have a look at this thread I started a while back:

http://www.pianoforum.net/cgi-bin/yabb/YaBB.cgi?board=misc;action=display;num=1086540129

Faulty Damper has some interesting thoughts that make a lot of sense.

donjuan

ps dont worry, you wont offend anyone- it's the internet and you are out of punching distance.  Besides, I believe asians are above fighting.

Offline monk

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Re: A Question I've Wondered About
«Reply #2 on: June 15, 2004, 12:59:46 AM »
The Asians - just like e.g. the Russians - have the following advantages over Westerners:

- They practice much! Our music university closes at 10 p.m. When I walk by, the last ones who come out of the building are ALWAYS the Russians and Asians, almost NEVER Germans. And the same applies for which students are the first ones in the morning.

- They are disciplined. Asian society is much more organized, traditional and discipline-oriented than the western.

Russian society is not as disciplined, but there they have the advantage that the young people don't have so many distractions in their daily life (like video games, television, bars etc.) and their parents and teachers are much more rigorous, so they better practice - else they either get bored or get stress from the adults!

- They are really INTO the music they are playing, as opposed to many European students who have a rather lukewarm relationship with the music.

Best Wishes,
Monk


Offline bizgirl

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Re: A Question I've Wondered About
«Reply #3 on: June 15, 2004, 03:19:23 AM »
I've noticed the same thing!  My teacher, who is Asian, said Asian parents have higher expectations than others.  Someone else told me the same thing in regard to grades in school: Asian parents expect A's and American parents expect B's.  I know this isn't always true (I'm American and my parents expect A's), but in general I think a lot of American parents do have lower expectations for their kids.  I wonder if it's the same for other non-Asian countries.

Offline zhiliang

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Re: A Question I've Wondered About
«Reply #4 on: June 15, 2004, 10:12:13 AM »
Well, I am an asian myself, I come from Singapore.

Maybe I should not say that the Asians are better pianists than the Europeans or Americans. But my former teacher who coaches a lot of foreigners and gives master classes in the US always mention to me that the Asians are really hardworking and focused in what they do. And this applies again generally more to the students from Japan and China. He used to mention that the Japanese students are always staying back to ask him extra questions and when given an etude to learn, they will probably come back with the entire set of etudes studied and ready for playing. As for the students in China, a lot of them are very focused on a particular thing they are good at or made to learn. Like the gynasts from China, they start at such a young age, perfecting and honing their skills. And they really concentrate solely on that, specializing in it. But I also do feel that the general level of teaching or musical education given in Asia is not at a very high level. Many have to go overseas to prove themselves in famous conservatories. Only there, will they able to study under the best.

Zhiliang
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Offline faulty_damper

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Re: A Question I've Wondered About
«Reply #5 on: June 16, 2004, 12:11:08 AM »
Quote
Besides, I believe asians are above fighting.


I have to disagree.  The Chinese are very well known for their martial arts.  The stereotype that all Chinese know Kung Fu is very real.  I know Kung Fu.  I can kick kung pow butt.  Then marinate the poor fowl.  ;D

Back to the topic:

Also consider that many asians are first generation asians in the country, whichever it is.  So they will not have been assimilated to such a degree as to be considered "white" or "twinkie".  They will retain much of their parents cultural traits.

And also consider that most asian countries are generally much poorer than western countries.  The reason they immigrated out of their home country were probably an economic one.  In order to succeed, the parents push their children to succeed.  (Succeed as defined in the amount of money one earns in a year.  The more money, the more success.)  

And from the parents point of view, their children are obligated to support the family which is the case in Eastern cultures.  This is in contrast to Western culture of the nuclear family where the offspring are pushed to be self-sufficient with little regard to their sire and mare's economic status.

However, after the first generation of offspring raised in a Western culture, the second generation will much more easily adopt the Western culture as their own.  This second generation can be classified as "white" or "twinkie" (yellow on the outside, white on the inside).  Once this assimilation has occured, then the statement that Asians are so good would then be flawed.  These second generations will be just as lazy and unmotivated/unfocussed as the western natives.

The next time you are at one of these competitions, talk to them and see if they have an asian accent they have learned from their parents even if they were born in the country.  And also ask if they are first generation children.  Most likely these will be the case in most circumstances.

Offline donjuan

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Re: A Question I've Wondered About
«Reply #6 on: June 16, 2004, 03:07:10 AM »
Quote


I have to disagree.  The Chinese are very well known for their martial arts.  The stereotype that all Chinese know Kung Fu is very real.  I know Kung Fu.  I can kick kung pow butt.  Then marinate the poor fowl.  ;D


Any real martial artist would disagree with you and say they do it for exercise, enlightenment, or pure enjoyment.  Never to " kick kung pow butt", as you put it.  When I said "fighting", I meant uncivilized brutish fighting with the intention to hurt someone.  The Chinese and their martial arts wont want do it purely to hurt someone, but for the thrill of competition.
donjuan

Offline faulty_damper

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Re: A Question I've Wondered About
«Reply #7 on: June 18, 2004, 12:03:31 AM »
I was joking.  Don't make me kick your Kung Pow butt thereby proving your statement to be false. ;) ;D

Offline bernhard

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Re: A Question I've Wondered About
«Reply #8 on: June 18, 2004, 02:42:50 AM »
Quote

Any real martial artist would disagree with you and say they do it for exercise, enlightenment, or pure enjoyment.  Never to " kick kung pow butt", as you put it.  When I said "fighting", I meant uncivilized brutish fighting with the intention to hurt someone.  The Chinese and their martial arts wont want do it purely to hurt someone, but for the thrill of competition.
donjuan



Er… ???

A “real” martial artist will not do it for exercise. Quite the opposite is true: S/he will exercise in order to improve their martial arts skills, not the other way around as you are suggesting. ::)

A “real” martial artist will not do it for enlightenment, although they may get enlightened in the process. 8)

A “real” martial artist will never do it for enjoyment pure or not. Usually they will start doing it for sheer necessity, and keep doing it for “duty” (Japanese: giri) a concept difficult to explain and translate. :P

To a “real” martial artist there is nothing as abhorrent as competition, and all of them will unanimously consider sport as the single most pernicious factor in the quick disappearance of “real” martial arts (seconded only by martial arts movies). >:(

The ultimate aim of fighting, be it uncivilised and brutish or civilised and technical is to hurt, and if possible to kill someone. “Real” martial arts are not for sissies. ;D

Finally a “real” martial artist will not disagree with anyone. They are the quiet types who keep their opinions to themselves. They know that disagreements can easily lead to fighting, and if a real martial artist is involved, someone may end up dead.  ;)

Best wishes,
Bernhard.
The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side. (Hunter Thompson)

Spatula

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Re: A Question I've Wondered About
«Reply #9 on: June 19, 2004, 08:35:02 AM »
Back to the post...

Don't feel dissappointed or at a loss if you are like 1 out of 100 pianists who is western; the rest asian.  Yeah it's true they work hard at it, but trust me, after talking to A LOT of my friends, they really hate piano and do it for the hell of it, not for any enjoyment (not to kill someone like martial arts).  

Yes, there are some asian students who actually enjoy doing music and are moved by it, but I find that Westerners are generally more "intuned" with the music.  

P.S. Thinking about it now, maybe you could "trill" the opponent to death with your 2nd and 3rd fingers on their neck! hmmmmm  :P

p.s.s No most or I doubt any asians will take offence, they acknowledge it and sometimes hate being stereotyped for that reason because it makes them feel like "social rejects" to hang out at bars etc...
Anyways.....

Offline veryangrystorks

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Re: A Question I've Wondered About
«Reply #10 on: June 19, 2004, 10:09:09 PM »
Most of my teacher's other students are either Russian, Asian, or from somewhere like Kazakhstan, etc.  She says that out of all of her students, the Asians practice the hardest, but are the least musical.  Of course, she generalizes when she says this, but still...  I was the only white male in my age range at my last piano recital.  All of the Asians played flawlessly, the Russians with very few mistakes, and the white people usually flubbed quite a bit, though I noticed that the white people gave the most emotional performances.  After talking to some of the Asian students, I can agree with the above post that "most of them do it for the hell of it, and not for [other important reason]."  Most seem to be pushed hard by their parents.  My teacher says of them "They come in and play the notes perfectly, but it's not music.  They don't understand it."

Hmm.  I wonder. :-/

Offline faulty_damper

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Re: A Question I've Wondered About
«Reply #11 on: June 19, 2004, 11:46:52 PM »
Quote
because it makes them feel like "social rejects" to hang out at bars etc...


Haha, bars.  Okay, here's a joke that will make sense to why I think the quote is funny:

"A pianist walks into a bar, and hits his head."


Spatula

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Re: A Question I've Wondered About
«Reply #12 on: June 20, 2004, 01:16:53 AM »
Quote


Haha, bars.  Okay, here's a joke that will make sense to why I think the quote is funny:

"A pianist walks into a bar, and hits his head."



Umm...I'm dense, but the bar you're referring to is the "measure" type bar?  The lines that separate the notation?  Help me! (again I'm very sloooow)  ???

Offline Hmoll

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Re: A Question I've Wondered About
«Reply #13 on: June 20, 2004, 11:41:49 AM »
Not a scientiic sample by any means but:
I've had Eastern European piano teachers, Western European teachers, American, and 2 Asian piano teachers.
Both Asian teachers had more profound understanding of the music.  They also taught from the perspective of playing musically, not as much technically.

I think the generalisations you hear about Asians practicing like maniacs, but playing like robots is both untrue, and a convenient compensation for those who do not have the same work ethic.

If you see someone is successful, emulate what they do as a best practice.

Go into practice room areas or libraries at 11pm on Saturday nights. Those are the people with drive.

I'll make one more observation about the Asian musicians I have known. They have less of an ego about what they do, and more of a "get on with it" attitude. As a contrast, a lot of European and American musicians I know need to constantly be told how good they are, and whine too much about practising.
Not a generalisation, just an observation.
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Offline bernhard

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Re: A Question I've Wondered About
«Reply #14 on: June 20, 2004, 01:08:41 PM »
Quote
Not a scientiic sample by any means but:
I've had Eastern European piano teachers, Western European teachers, American, and 2 Asian piano teachers.
Both Asian teachers had more profound understanding of the music.  They also taught from the perspective of playing musically, not as much technically.

I think the generalisations you hear about Asians practicing like maniacs, but playing like robots is both untrue, and a convenient compensation for those who do not have the same work ethic.

If you see someone is successful, emulate what they do as a best practice.

Go into practice room areas or libraries at 11pm on Saturday nights. Those are the people with drive.

I'll make one more observation about the Asian musicians I have known. They have less of an ego about what they do, and more of a "get on with it" attitude. As a contrast, a lot of European and American musicians I know need to constantly be told how good they are, and whine too much about practising.
Not a generalisation, just an observation.



Good observations, Hmoll.

Here is a possible explanation (correct me if I am wrong) for your Asian piao teachers being the most musical.

A (good) teacher will try to teach what the student needs to learn, not what s/he wants to learn, or what s/he thinks s/he should be learning.

Therefore a student’s memory of his/her teachers (if s/he had more than one) is that the first teacher only silly pieces and knew nothing of the more advanced repertory, the second teacher only taught about the methodology and importance of practice, the third teacher only taught about technique, and it was only when s/he got to the fourth teacher that they started working on musicality, Oh boy! That last teacher was brilliant! Surely If I was going to be a teacher someday I would start straight form the musical aspects.

The point here is that a student’s perceptions of a teacher are always the perception of his/her own limitations/development. Since a teacher must of necessity teach according to what the student can learn. I found interesting what Hmoll said that his last two teachers (Asians – supposed to be the least musical) were the most musical. But were they? Or they were perceived as such simply because they were the last one and could benefit from all the groundwork done by the previous teachers? If the order had been reversed, and the last teachers would have been the first, would that have changed anything in your perception of them?

I know that I certainly have changed my mind completely about my own teachers, after I started teaching and started to see my own behaviour as a student in my own students. My conclusion is that they were all excellent, and could have taught me everything, but unfortunately I often did not let them. Specially as a child I was hopeless. As a teenager I was a little better but my mind was often in other things (pretty things he he). I actually feel that only now I am ready to start learning the piano.

It also brings to mind what Leschetizky students said about him and his methodology: They could not agree. By listening to them, you would have concluded that either they had totally different teachers with completely different methodologies, or Leschetizky was the most contradictory teacher who ever lived. The truth is of course that Leichetizky teaching was tailored to the student (as it should ideally be), and he was using whatever method would give him the results he was after.

I have no experience with Asian teachers, but I like and admire any Asian players. In fact I have no personal evidence that it is due to race, and not simply to individual differences.

Best wishes,
Bernhard.
The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side. (Hunter Thompson)

Shagdac

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Re: A Question I've Wondered About
«Reply #15 on: June 20, 2004, 01:52:25 PM »
This is interesting. I too, find that I learned differently as I matured. I'm not just referring to being able to learn more technique due to advance playing skill as time went on, but actually what I would allow myself to learn. I truly do not think my first teacher was very good, however in all fairness, had she been better, I don't know how much difference that would have made.

As far as Asian teachers.....I have one now. He is absolutely wonderful. I learned more from him in the first hour than I had learned from practicing on my own in years. But I must say...there is a difference. Although I LEARNED more, it didn't make a difference till I actually applied it to my practicing. Had I done this with earlier instructors, who knows what a difference it would have made, but truly he has given me more technique suggestions and shows exactly how to do something which the others really didn't. If I am not doing a technique properly, he will show me how I am doing it, then how it SHOULD be done...and makes sure I am understanding the difference. Then he also shows me how to do it, so I am duplicating the same effect he showed. The fact that he is Asian may not be what makes the difference.  He is very structured, very thorough and knowledgable and an accomplished pianist himself. But I don't think that his being Asian really plays into being a good teacher. I think he is an excellent teacher because, first of all he listens to me as a student. He focuses on what my goals are and adjusts his teaching so that I can better accomplish these. He truly understands when I'm up against a brick wall! I've never had a teacher do this. He was not familiar with a piece that I've been working on, so he got a copy of the piece and practiced it himself....so that as he puts it "he wants to understand and feel what I am feeling". It also enables him to make suggestions that he feels may be more helpful.

He is honest and up front. He will tell me truly if something I want to play is too difficult and steer me towards something else geared to help me learn techniques before tackling the piece I originally wanted to play. If I'm really having a bad time with a piece he certainly doesnt sugar coat it, but he also is great as far as encouraging and letting me know when I'm making progress. I ALWAYS leave feeling like I want to do MORE!

He doesn't just give an answer...he explains WHY something should be done a certain way. I was constantly amazed at his sight reading ability....He could play something better (and I'm talking a fairly difficult piece) in 30 seconds seeing it for the first time, than I could after practicing it for a week. But this was not because he was Asian, it's because he used to play for a University dance class, and was given stacks of music to learn practically overnight.

I don't think Asian people excel at piano because of being "Asian", but I do think in their culture they generally (not all) are more disciplined in there learning. They expect more of themselves and work harder. But I feel ANYONE can achieve the same thing by doing the same thing....it's all in how one is brought up, how they have been raised to accomplish the learning process. What they are exposed to as far as a learning environment.

It's funny that this post should appear now, my teacher and I were discussing this very topic at the last lesson. It was strange that neither one of us could think of one famous Asian composers. He commented that most of the Asian people had not been exposed to this music until more recently. Meaning it was not as widespread in the Asian cultures as it was in Europe, Russia, Germany, etc.

I do Rubleski understand exactly what you are saying though....it does SEEM like that sometimes. I guess there are general perceptions that we have about all different races. I however, still want to believe that similarities in different cultures tends to be based on an individuals environment and hard work and discipline, as it would for anyone regarless of race.

Just my opinion
S :)

Offline bernhard

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Re: A Question I've Wondered About
«Reply #16 on: June 20, 2004, 02:40:19 PM »
Quote

It's funny that this post should appear now, my teacher and I were discussing this very topic at the last lesson. It was strange that neither one of us could think of one famous Asian composers. He commented that most of the Asian people had not been exposed to this music until more recently. Meaning it was not as widespread in the Asian cultures as it was in Europe, Russia, Germany, etc.
S :)


Yes, there are no famous Asian composers of "European" music (and why should there be, although Takemitsu comes to mind) but what about famous Asian composers of Asian music? Certainly in India and the middle East there are legendary composers oclassical indian and Sufi music, with an almost god-like status. It is just that we in the West never heard of them. But there they are all household names.

Which country is your teacher from? It would be interesting to know his opinion about who he believes are the greatest "national" composers and how their music fairs when compared with European classical music.

Best wishes,
Bernhard.
The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side. (Hunter Thompson)

Offline Hmoll

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Re: A Question I've Wondered About
«Reply #17 on: June 20, 2004, 10:17:43 PM »
Quote



Good observations, Hmoll.

Here is a possible explanation (correct me if I am wrong) for your Asian piao teachers being the most musical.

A (good) teacher will try to teach what the student needs to learn, not what s/he wants to learn, or what s/he thinks s/he should be learning.

Therefore a student’s memory of his/her teachers (if s/he had more than one) is that the first teacher only silly pieces and knew nothing of the more advanced repertory, the second teacher only taught about the methodology and importance of practice, the third teacher only taught about technique, and it was only when s/he got to the fourth teacher that they started working on musicality, Oh boy! That last teacher was brilliant! Surely If I was going to be a teacher someday I would start straight form the musical aspects.

The point here is that a student’s perceptions of a teacher are always the perception of his/her own limitations/development. Since a teacher must of necessity teach according to what the student can learn. I found interesting what Hmoll said that his last two teachers (Asians – supposed to be the least musical) were the most musical. But were they? Or they were perceived as such simply because they were the last one and could benefit from all the groundwork done by the previous teachers? If the order had been reversed, and the last teachers would have been the first, would that have changed anything in your perception of them?


My memory is actually pretty good and objective.
I have a faily accurate idea of what my teachers were like. My first teacher was American, taught a lot of theory, technique, improvisation, repertoire. Her approach was more technical and theoretical, which is just what I needed. I started when I was 15, had fairly natural facility.

All other teachers were in college, graduate school, etc. , and they were from all over. The Asian teachers I had were not in a consecutive part of my development, but were mixed in, so were at differing levels of technical/musical development.

For two years I had an Asian teacher who did not change anything technically, but built on the equipment I had. Everything - including technical problems - were approached in a musical context.

After her I had a European teacher who immediately tried to change everything about my technique, and approached everything based on that change.

After that I had an American teacher who did the same.


Further down the line, I had another Asian teacher who was very similar - to my relief - to the other Asian teacher. Very good musical instincts, approached everything musically, and built on what I had.

That's just my experience, not any sort of scientific sampling.  
"I am sitting in the smallest room of my house. I have your review before me. In a moment it will be behind me!" -- Max Reger

Offline bernhard

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Re: A Question I've Wondered About
«Reply #18 on: June 20, 2004, 11:54:13 PM »
Quote

My memory is actually pretty good and objective.
I have a faily accurate idea of what my teachers were like. My first teacher was American, taught a lot of theory, technique, improvisation, repertoire. Her approach was more technical and theoretical, which is just what I needed. I started when I was 15, had fairly natural facility.

All other teachers were in college, graduate school, etc. , and they were from all over. The Asian teachers I had were not in a consecutive part of my development, but were mixed in, so were at differing levels of technical/musical development.

For two years I had an Asian teacher who did not change anything technically, but built on the equipment I had. Everything - including technical problems - were approached in a musical context.

After her I had a European teacher who immediately tried to change everything about my technique, and approached everything based on that change.

After that I had an American teacher who did the same.


Further down the line, I had another Asian teacher who was very similar - to my relief - to the other Asian teacher. Very good musical instincts, approached everything musically, and built on what I had.

That's just my experience, not any sort of scientific sampling.  



This is very interesting. Particularly what you said about your European and American teachers who changed your technique in specific ways and did everything based on such changes. Were they in agreement? What was your conclusion? Helpful?

I myself tend to be pretty flexible, since I do not believe in only one way to play. Surely there are many instances of incorrect technique, but there is certainly more than one correct way to obtain the same result.  

I once met a teacher who was very adamant that her students should play the way she precognised. It was interesting to see her students in a recital. They all played superbly, but there was something unsettling about it, in that they all looked exactly the same, no matter how tall, how thin (or fat), male or female. They all sat with the same posture (very good, I must say), they all used the same kind of movements (again very correct from an anatomical point of view), and yet the uniformity of it all seemed somehow wrong.

So did you adopt the technical changes these teachers demanded, or eventually you ended up with a more personal way to play?

Best wishes,
Bernhard.
The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side. (Hunter Thompson)

Offline donjuan

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Re: A Question I've Wondered About
«Reply #19 on: June 20, 2004, 11:58:59 PM »
after all, no one gets famous from doing what everyone else does...

Shagdac

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Re: A Question I've Wondered About
«Reply #20 on: June 21, 2004, 06:41:59 AM »
My teacher is from the Phillipines, and his wife (also a pianist) is Japanese. I will be sure and ask him whom he feels is the greatest National composer. My first teacher was from here in the US, and I remember her teaching very much "by the book". I had 4 books, a piano student (my favorite with "fun" pieces, some very well known), piano repertroire (like this one too, contained mostly classical pieces, Bach, Beethoven, Sonatas), piano theory (a "write-in" book) and piano technic (scales and exercises). They went from primer level up to level 4 or 5, then just used other books. I don't remember her ever straying from "the lesson plan" until we had gotten thru all the levels, then I would mention if there was a piece I wanted to play...(of course I was older then, and had more of an opinion of my own). I don't ever remember her helping me or guiding me based on what "I" wanted to do with music. Although when I accompanied the schools choirs, she did help me with the music, but it was never suggested that I should, or could do more than just take lessons. With the teacher I have now, we work towards specific goals. And he explained that he teaches differently depending on what each students goals are (he has 64, most of them much younger). I think the biggest difference between him and the others is what he expects in the way of perfection. I'm not saying his expectations are unrealistic....but he will pick up on every small thing, down to the most minute detail. It makes the learning process seem much longer, however the end results are MUCH better. He also is involved much more. He doesn't just talk and I listen and play. He plays as well. He demonstrates exactly what he is talking about. And I've never had a teacher actual practice the same piece I am, just because they are unfamiliar with it and want to gain more knowledge as far as what I might be feeling or struggling with as I learn a piece. That makes a huge difference.

I do know that he does not particularily care for "French" composers, (Debussy,Ravel). I also noticed that at the competition I recently attended that while many of the Asian performers played pieces by Bartok, Rach, Chopin, etc, there were few with the French influence. I tend to think this is due to personal preference though and not cultural influence?

Have a great day! :)
S